There Comes a Reckoning

Wednesday Business
Eliza's Journal Excerpt

I make it back to the hotel without seeming to be noticed. My blood is pumping far too much for sleep and leaf through my grimoire to study the information given to me from Ruby. “Window to the soul” piques my interest and I study intently staying up nearly too late to get enough sleep for the night. I wake the next morning for breakfast as usual and at this point we are merely waiting for responses so I return to my room to study more.

On Wednesday Mr Cerney suggests we bolster up support a bit and asks me to go to Frank Bryant at the Miner’s Alliance or Al Swearingin. Given the nature of Swearingin’s establishment I opt for the Alliance first hoping to have escort for the Swearengin. I head to Ayres and Wardman Hardware store. I enter and find the gazes upon me. I walk up and announce I am looking for Mr Frank Bryant, the man behind the counter puffs up and states that he is. We have a lovely chat and after I “grease the wheels” to the tune of $50. He also says he will go talk to Mr Nutall.

Upon meeting back up for supper I inform Mr. Cerney as to the details of the meeting and he says he would still like to go talk to Nutall. I say that is probably a good idea. He also mentions it attempted a meeting with Swearengin and it went poorly. He asks if I will go and I agree provided I have an escort. There is trouble finding one and eventually meeting for dinner I find both Johnny and Joseph amenable to the task. We arrive and I walk up and introduce myself to the bar tender who just goes by Dan.

I meet with Al Swearengin. He… lives up to much of the colorful reputation. After the slight delay waiting for the woman leaving from under the desk, the meeting goes fairly well. He does have an issue with Wild Bill Hickock, and this is the hinge upon which his support swings. If we deter Hickock from his interest in Swearengin, the latter will support our telegraph endeavor. I had thought that he was deceased, however rumors of his demise are true, the state of his being is now harrowed.

I head down the stair to see a shorter man talking to Johnny and Joseph and after heading down the stairs I notice she is, in fact, a woman. I interject myself into the conversation. Her name is Calamity Jane. She was a friend to Wild Bill during his life time and says he is different now. Out for blood to take out those that killed him. This all lines up with him being harrowed, though skews a little to something more sinister. Calamity has had contact with him post mortem and he is different, but not a mindless beast bent purely on revenge. One of the few left is one Jack McCall. Scruffy beard, might be mixed, either Indian or mexican she is not sure. I offer her employ to point out Mr McCall to us. She seems hesitant about something, but is also a little too tempting an offer for her.

For breakfast Thursday morning we begin discussing the status of our dealings. Mr Cerney inquires as to my meeting with Swearengin. I gloss over the minutia but mention that he requires a task to fully support our telegraph line and fill them in on the issue. That task is to curtail Wild Bill’s interest in Swearengin. He is vague as to both the interest and how to curtail it. It is during this that Calamity Jane makes an appearance. Someone, I forget who as this breakfast devolves a bit into chaos, but someone talks of killing Wild Bill. This of course plays very poorly with Calamity as she is love (claims platonically) with Wild Bill. It is quite vexing for me as it seems the people I associate with are quite quick to murder. At any rate the discussion becomes heated. I snap at poor Ms. Frost. So flustered by the situation in general and growing perturbed with how much her mystery is confounding me. She gets up and leaves the table apparently too cross (and perhaps wise) to stay at the table. Our fast broken we also break ranks from the table. Opting for a more private arena to discuss.

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The Stakeout and The Hunt
Eliza's Journal Excerpt

At dinner Ms. Frost lays out a plan to watch the children, splitting the group to watch both children’s houses. Cyrus mentions it is likely to only attack one child and probably moved to the young boy. It is difficult to argue the logic and to my shame he knows a bit more about the occult than I. The group agrees and we focus on all of us on the young lad’s home. Frost says she will go to Sophie’s because she wouldn’t be much help in the event we run into the creature. I ask her why she was going to go on the stakeout if she couldn’t be of help. She proceeds to tell me this was never part of her plan as she wouldn’t be help. This may very well be true, but if her interest is to gather information for a story, why wouldn’t she want to be where the action is expected to be? I also remember how quick to action and sure she was at the suddenness of men falling from the sky. Things are starting to not add up with this woman. Though I am very much at a loss as to what it might be.

After we have dined, Frost goes to the Potts’ residence to inquire about staying there with Sophie. While she is gone we try to determine how to get the house. We realize she would be helpful to get us there and consider going to find her as she arrives back at the hotel. Apparently unable to convince Mr Potts regarding her staying.

She guides us to the Carpenter residence and en route reveals a ruse for Mr Carpenter. She will inform him of the attack on Sophie and that similar odd happenings are going around his son. This appears to go poorly. She parts ways with us to retire for the evening. Something I still find quite odd, but I stay quiet at this point. Once I am confident she is out of earshot I comment that it is quite queer a journalist is not interested in possibly being an eye witness should the creature appear. Especially given the subject matter of the majority of her articles. Cyrus and Joseph agree this is odd, but not a single one of us has a thing to do about it.

The three of us stand around discussing the bible until sundown. The discussion pauses as we notice Joseph manifests his playing cards. He informs us he is turning the chambered round into a magically enhanced silver one! This is most incredible. I know the man had some talents, but I wish I could bend reality so. Cyrus offers to do something quite similar and after a short prayer the three bullets in my gun poised to fire first are now enchanted as well. Shortly following this the Sherriff’s deputy ambles up the sidewalk. He is concerned with a lady such as myself out so late in a dangerous boom town. I let him know Joseph is escorting me back to the hotel and thank him for the concern. I wrap my arm around Joseph’s and he seems surprised at first but I comment, for the deputy’s benefit, that he is such a gentleman for escorting me properly in this rough and tumble town. He relaxes and this seems to calm the deputy’s worry. After we travel far enough as to not be detected by said Deputy I slip my arm from his and speak the curse that hides me in shadows. Before I can think of how rude this must seem I am whispering “Do try to keep up” before heading off back to the Carpenter house. Perhaps I just lack tact or perhaps I am a little jealous of the abilities of Joseph and Cyrus. They don’t need to risk their souls to twist a curse and I should love to say the same for myself after all. This thought pops in and out of my head as I stalk around the homestead. I glance up at that section just below the roof as the accounts have the creature appearing from there, but I also do not want to miss a thing so I am scanning about the house and boarding tree line. My mind has wondered back to my wounded pride when I hear Cyrus shout my name and begin quoting the bible. I take off fast as I can in the direction quickly confirming the chase is afoot. As my boots pound the soft earth I feel… energized like I could make extra efforts then usual at the moment and while maintaining my extra cover from the shadows I scan for the creature. My senses are seemingly heightened thanks to the preacher’s efforts, but my search for the beast we are chasing remains unsuccessful.

After what seems like ages there is a break in the wooded area and I see the figure from Ms. Frost’s stories in the lamp light of tent city. This mysterious figure seems to be holding her own against the creature but mortal versus evil can turn quickly and I stop as soon as my curses will affect the beast trying out my newest addition. A most wicked grin graces my lips as I see the thing scratch and claw at its throat. Confusion growing to panic. This is truly a scrumptious taste of power. Gun shots and scuffle ring out, the details a bit lost to me as I am focused on the panic and pathetic attempts of the thing to end its chocking.
When it seems our quarry is now safely a corpse I venture forth. The commotion and gunshots have stirred the area and a crowd is gathering. I do not wish for the deputy to see me but I must confirm my fear. While peering over the body I know for certain and mumble “This isn’t the same creature from the gallows attack” I do believe this is heard, but I twist the curse to bring my shadows back to me and head to my room sans escort lest I need answer questions to the law.

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Business as ususal
Eliza's Journal Excerpt

I leave my room a touch early to pop off into the stables and inquire as to an upgrade in Obsidian’s boarding. The horse was most impressive before and now that I have seen how he handles the denizens of evil compared to other equines I wish to let him know I appreciate him.

After being assured of his VIP (perhaps VIH?) treatment I enter the hotel’s resturant for breakfast. It just a touch past nine o’clock, which is only minute or two past our standard morning time to dine, hoping to set plans with Mr Cerney in regards to meetings with those of import about the telegraph line. However it appears he has left for business earlier than usual. I sit and study my grimoire excited for the first new curses in over a decade, figuring he will likely head back for lunch at the very least. I haven’t been studying long when he approaches me. I am not startled by him, though he comes from the opposite direction I had expected. As such I am fairly certain he briefly saw the contents of my grimoire. He has not shown me any indication of knowing what such a text is nor that he speaks anything other than English. Regardless I would be remiss in letting myself get sloppy lest my own destiny manifests me on the shore of the Pacific as well. We discuss the telegraph and how best to conduct this business. Mr Cerney has personal matters, but invites me to his eleven o’clock appointment with Mr. Potts at the bank. I let him know I will attend the meeting and it is agreed we will meet here and walk to the bank together. I resume my studies.

Joseph and eventually Johnny join me We briefly make some polite small talk before they begin to talk of going to look for work amongst themselves. I turn back to studying my notes from yesterday, more careful of my surroundings now. Mr Cerney returns. He takes a moment to address Joseph and Johnny as they are here in his employ. He turns to me and asks if I am ready for the meeting. We leave together and move to the bank.

There are some long lines at the bank and Mr Cerney suggest we head down the hallway as we have an appointment. This does seem reasonable to me given our appointment and we head down the hallway. The office door is open, Mr Cerney checks his time piece, nods in satisfaction, and knocks on the door frame. Mr Potts looks up and moves to greet us. Mr Cerney starts his sale pitch, I am a little bit thrown by the breach of etiquette in not introducing me, however Mr Potts rectifies this and we make our introductions. Mr Cerney launches into his pitch again. I do have to say that Mr Cerney has continued to perform above the level I had originally placed him at in the meeting with Mr. Bearclaw. I am starting to believe that it was perhaps just an off day for the man. I do contribute to the conversation, but more in the support role I was anticipating. Mr Potts says he will set up a city council meeting for Wednesday.

We head out of the bank. It is nearly lunch and Mr Cerney asks if we need to break for our mid-day meal. I let him know it is not necessary for me, however those we are going to see may be eating at the time so we head to the hotel for lunch. It just so happens we have our group all together again. Though this appears to just be for the moment because Joseph and Johnny ask about leaving to go to Bismarck to turn in a bounty. Joseph is… a bit gruff, as his is style and Mr Cerney actually reacts a little more tersely than usual. Perhaps this excursion is taking its toll on the man. Ms Frost mentions she needs to discuss some things with Mr Cerney. Lunch eventually breaks up and it is decided to take some time to freshen up before more meetings.

Arriving at the telegraph office we are greeted with the smell of technology. I was expecting this, but it sours my mood regardless. The proprietor is a shorter man and this is actually punctuated when he steps up upon reaching the counter. He asks us if we are here to receive or send a message, in the most atrocious English accent I have ever heard. At one point he claims to have studied in London and grew up on the Thames, and pronounces it with the bloody Th as in the. He is a smarmy piece of work and I find him quite grating apart from erroneous accent. He does give us some excellent insight to the necessities of the project. We leave and as we walk away I just cannot contain myself anymore and let lose a rant about how he said “Thames” incorrectly four bloody times. I apologize to Mr Cerney for my outburst and after a moment or two of silence he suggests we head to the theatre to discuss the business with Jack Langrishe
It appears the current show is selections from King Lear for 5 cents. That is quite a decent price and I make note in-case I find myself with time to kill some evening. We enter and are treated to the show of a rehearsal. The director seems to command lead with the respect of his actors. I am enjoying this peek behind the curtain and Mr Cerney gathers my attention and draws it to a man in the balcony.

Quite obvious upon entering the balcony, we discover the man is a Native. We climb the stairs and decide to take seats next to him, A bit startled at first we make introductions he is Charlie Bull. Apparently this man is someone Mr Cerney has been set to meet due to some dealings with another native man Wovoka. There is an exchange about Ghost Dancers and a Wallis Blount, dealings with Natives and Chinese… It is all rather dense and a quick conversation. I dare not ask questions lest I derail our main purpose. Perhaps I will find the time to ask Mr. Cerney later. Bull heads to the stage and provides our introductions as agreed. It does have a nice sense of theatre to be in the balcony for this.

We make our way down for formal introductions. Langrishe is… interesting. He is quite skilled with makeup and it is easy to take him for a bit younger at first glance due to this. Though I doubt the look would hold up well on the streets in sunshine. He is reluctant at first, as all have been to this point. He asks us if we would like a drink and juleps are ordered, Charlie Bull acting as waiter. I generally prefer my bourbon with less pomp and circumstance, but when in Rome I suppose. We get down to business, much like the rest, liberal amounts of ego stroking seem to hurry the process of coming round to our view. There is still time before supper so we head out to find the Mayor, one E.B. Farnum. He proves a little difficult to track down with a myriad of business ventures. We finally locate him at the hardware store. He is quite a colorful character. Mr Cerney suggests I take the lead here as his mood is too sour for this one. I understand, I had difficulty shaking the blasted telegraph operator from my thoughts. I approach and make introductions. He seems perturbed but I manage to capture his attention. I appeal to his very healthy ego and with some assistance from Mr Cerney’s wallet we win over the Mayor. Feminine charms and a bank roll could make a lady queen. I suppose I am testing this theory myself.

We head to dinner with the group save Mr Clockwork. Ms Frost lays out the details of another child that appears to be plagued by the same creature as that poor little girl. A twinge of guilt passes over me again and again I remind myself it was handled by capable enough persons and I am now much better equipped to fight back against these evils.

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Seeking Approval
Browning the nose

An excerpt from the journal of Gene Cerney
 
As I opened my window, Monday morning brought with it the acrid city air of Deadwood like the clap of a hammer on an anvil.  It filled my nose and other senses with a brutality that is fitting to this town.   The energy here is every bit as frantic as Shady Gulch, but there is an anger about, as though too many hopes have been crushed and corrupted to bitterness.  I admit, even my own enthusiasm for my task is tempered of late.  Maybe it is this place, sucking the life out of its occupants until they are but shells of their former selves, scraggled, hollow, and pale with the waking affliction of harsh reality.  Even the trees surrounding this place that inspired its moniker seem to reflect that terrible state.  I will be glad to leave this city.
 
I set upon my day with a plodding purpose despite the recent inadequacies of my efforts.  I met Ms. Blackstone on my way out in the middle of a light breakfast.  I spared a few moments to converse with her.  In the process, I noticed she was reading from a small book.  A quick, stolen glance revealed a single word from the book.  I did not recognize the origin, but I am curious to look it up.  I could only estimate that, by appearance, it may have some root in a Germanic language. 
 
Ms. Blackstone remains largely a puzzle.  I still find myself wondering over her sudden appearance on the prairie, and her motivations, but I admit, our unified interest in this joint telegraph project does grant me solace.  She suggested we get a healthy start on arranging meetings today with the town council members.  I expressed to her that I had some personal business to attend to, the subject of which, dear reader, I shall not convey to your delicate mind.  However, I invited her to accompany me to the bank at eleven o’clock to meet with Mr. Ephram Potts.
 
The eleven o’clock meeting went as to be expected, I suppose, considering the nature of Mr. Potts.  He balked at the financial commitment I requested of Deadwood and insisted upon adherence to propriety and decorum.  He all but demanded we speak to the telegraph office and the mayor before he would commit to any detail.  That being said, he did not seem adverse to the idea, simply concerned regarding the financial impact to bank funds.  He even offered to arrange for a council meeting in the middle of the week.  Perhaps it was the influence of his daughter’s presence in his office that softened his demeanor. 
 
The presence of his child in a professional setting was a decided oddity in Mr. Potts behavior.  And it was not the only one.  Throughout the conversation, Mr. Potts favored his left side heavily to hide the bruise on the right from Ms. Blackstone.  He only ever turned his face to her when he set to slobbering over her hand.  I admit that even I found the act uncomfortable.  I was impressed Ms. Blackstone was able to stomach the attention.
 
I was impressed again at the young lady’s self-control upon our visit to the telegraph office.  Ms. Blackstone, judging by her accent, is of a descent belonging to the British Isles.  The telegraph officer and professed business owner, one Mr. Henry Westall Ph.D., prefers to be perceived with such a heritage.  However, his accent sounds falsified, as evidenced by the cringe on Ms. Blackstone’s features as the man culturally mispronounced the name of the river running through London.  I gathered by her tension and cool demeanor, that Mr. Westall, who I very much doubt has his doctorate from Yale as alluded, made a number of mistakes in his self-imagining. 
 
Mr. Westhall conveyed a thick sense of self-importance.  We adopted the tactic of stroking his ego to further our project.  He desires a 3% cut of our telegraph business to match what he gets from Kang.  I cannot imagine this man gets anything from Kang.  Few people do unless it comes with a cost.  Rather, I believe he is probably looking for a way to make back his own costs with interest as they relate to bribes paid the celestial railroad baron.  Mr. Westhall also wants to be the hub location for the telegraph line.  That part of his argument only makes sense as Deadwood is the larger and influential location with established connections to other towns.  Still, I found myself ill when I considered passing information through this man.  He attested to be a friend to Kang and capable of negotiating our interests with the Celestials.  I am quite sure there is an unspoken price for his enthusiasm and assistance.  Any message going through Deadwood, surely goes through Kang. 
 
When it came time for our departure, I could see Ms. Blackstone was anxious to go.  The existence of Mr. Westhall appeared to irritate her and try her patience.  I endeavored to support her through the trial only to feel a familiar flavor of repugnance as he bid Ms. Blackstone good day.
 
We reconvened at the hotel for luncheon and met with the rest of our companions.  Ms. Frost, the local schoolteacher, supplied information regarding the health of Mr. Potts daughter, Sofia, who had expressed to her a certain childlike fear.  As I understand it, the child suffered some recent harm.  Ms. Frost is concerned after holding classes this morning that another one of her students is in similar danger.  She said a child, Josiah, came to her upset over being called a liar by his father.  His father accused the child of stealing a pocket watch and the child claimed innocence.  Ms. Frost wanted to mobilize our group of companions to keep watch over the houses of the children, Josiah and Sofia, based on the concept that she believed the child was not responsible for the theft and that some external force who was targeting Deadwood children was to blame.  After having attacked Sofia, the assailant now set his sights on Josiah.
 
Ms. Blackstone, while expressing concern for the safety of the children, questioned the motivation of the schoolteacher.  She purposed involving the local Sheriff, Mr. Seth Bullock.  Involvement of the authorities made Ms. Frost hesitate.  She expressed a desire to curb local panic and keep the situation quiet because of supposed supernatural involvement.  I have not been sold on the idea of anything supernatural occurring.  Sofia Potts showed signs of physical and mental abuse.  She displayed no signs of ill effects of any recent injury when I saw her at the earlier meeting with her father, Mr. Potts.  And Mr. Potts, for all intents and purposes, appeared a doting father.  But captors and abusers have long developed misguided feelings towards their victims.  And a victim of a child, one’s own daughter no less, would be far less likely to understand or admit the full weight of injuries done.
 
If Ms. Frost is concerned for the safety of another child, it could be that she is simply trying to expose the crimes of a local child abuser.  I expressed to Ms. Blackstone that Ms. Frost is a reporter and it was possible she was on the trail of a juicy story.  I also suggested that Sheriff Bullock was in possession of a great many responsibilities and provided with a limited staff.  He would not likely spare any time or resources for the care of a child who is upset over being accused of lying by his father.  Cyrus, intrigued by the potential of supernatural involvement suggested that Sofia was now likely to be under close guard by her father and that watching her house would unnecessarily divide our resources.  I added that predators habitually attack the weak.  If this was an external individual, and not the work of Mr. Potts, then the aggressor would likely move on to Josiah.  We agreed to see to the matter this evening.  Ms. Frost sought me out after the table discussion and expressed some sympathy for my position, though she held true to her convictions.
 
I approved the requests of my retinue to go about their own personal business today.  I would be accompanied by Ms. Blackstone and quite unlikely to be the recipient of some untoward attack.  Cyrus returned to his room to meditate on the word of the Lord, whatever that means.  I suspect he means to further his own delusion of being a demon-slaying warrior of God by stretching whatever passages of the Bible best fit his means.  Joseph and Mr. Clockwork did not tell me what they intended.  I presumed that to be a bad sign.  I may have made a few derogatory comments regarding their commitment and competency, or lack thereof, as a bodyguard retinue.  But I will spare you the details. I will say this. Mr. Clockwork later requested leave to take a train and cash in a bounty. He also requested the companionship of Justice. I expressed that I would neither fund his adventure nor credit him this day of pay for keeping me safe. If he desired Justice’s companionship, he could relay to him the same terms. Yes reader, I am well protected.
 
Ms. Blackstone and I returned to our schedule of meetings and sought out the company of Jack Langrishe, a council member and proprietor of local entertainment venues.  We entered the theater in the middle of the day and, I must comment, it was far better appointed than I have seen anywhere outside of a major metropolitan city.  There was a certain finish to the craftsmanship that I found impressive.  It looked the part of a venue capable of transporting the audience into the imaginings of the actors onstage. 
 
And we were not the only ones appreciating it.  A glance to the balcony revealed a figure in the balcony.  I alerted Ms. Blackstone to the added presence and we went upstairs to investigate.  To my surprise, the man was of native origin.  Sitting beside him, I quickly learned that his name was Charlie Bull, the same man Wovoka asked us contact.  He was surprised to learn we were a part of the group who helped the native chieftain and was quite thankful.  He claimed the Ghost Dancers were growing in number and that he had faith Wovoka would gather the braves necessary to perform a successful Ghost Dance.  Charlie expressed a concern over an opposing faction, the Ravenites, being present in Deadwood.  He claimed that his informant, a man named Blount, had gone missing after observing Ravenites meeting secretly with Kang’s men.  He asked us if we’d be willing to help him.  Though I find this business of a spirit dance halting the flow of white influence in the West and banishing the strange elements of this world to be naive, I conceded that a missing man was cause for concern and, if we could help, we would.  I hope having some positive standing with the natives will bring some added benefit, perhaps even agreement for the telegraph.
 
Charlie Bull confessed to being in some trouble with Jack Langriche.  He had accrued some gambling debt and failed to pay his way into a performance or two.  We offered to pay off his debt of $35 if he would make a favorable introduction of us to Mr. Langriche.  He tried to pull a swindle on us and I could immediately see how Charlie Bull had gotten into trouble.  After a little negotiating, Charlie made the introductions and Ms. Blackstone accompanied me to meet Mr. Langriche. 
 
He is a handsome fellow, though some of that was the makeup he wore.  An actor’s habit, or an overt consciousness of age, I cannot say.  Once we gave Mr. Langriche the background of our motivation and enticed him with the possibility of expanding stage culture to Shady Gulch, he proclaimed we could count on his full support.  I’ve never known an actor who could turn down the opportunity to make money putting on a show.  I didn’t even need to try and sell him on the romantic idea of taking a troupe across the plains braving danger and ill fortune in order to put on some heartfelt performance to win an audience’s hearts.  Thankfully, Mr. Langriche seems to be a fellow fully obsessed with the importance of his craft, no matter the circumstances.  It saved me the trouble and cost of trying to impress him overmuch.
 
But not every encounter was so simple.  We also met the mayor today.  E.B. Farnum was not willing to listen to any kind of a proposal without proof that it could be worth his time.  I bought a pickax.  It was a very expensive pickax.  But that purchase did at least open him up to a casual discussion.  It is hard for me to speak to the effect of that discussion, reader, because I was not a part of it.  Mayor Farnum focused solely on Ms. Blackstone.  Charmed by her delicate appearance and foreign mystery, Farnum engaged Ms. Blackstone in appropriating fashion while declaring himself a very busy and important man.  Ms. Blackstone assured him she understood and that our venture did not require anything of him personally but his attention and good will. 
 
I admit, a part of me felt slighted by the exclusion, but there was also relief in being out of the Mayor’s vision.  I am sure that the moment we left his attendance, he made a direct line to Al Swearengen, a man of dubious reputation who holds sway over much of Deadwood.  I admit that, even before writing this entry, dear reader, I took great care to secure my belongings.  I suspect a visit from some of Swearengen’s men, upon hearing of my entrepreneurial spirit and funding, would not be out of the ordinary. 
 
I agreed to perform a little research for Ms. Frost and so I go now to work on that project until nightfall, at which time, I shall join my companions for an evening stroll.

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Any Given Sunday

An excerpt from the Journal of Gene Cerney
 
I found myself reading some very curious material today.  Since Ms. Frost has recently made efforts to endear herself to my motley crew of associates, I thought it prudent to invest some time researching her background.  She claimed to be a sometime writer for the local post.
 
During her month in the folds of Deadwood, she has written four articles I can locate, each more odd than the last.  Mr. Speakman attested that her writing was of fine sensible quality, but I am inclined to disagree.  Her stories read as store-bought dime novels.  Nearly all focus on a negative circumstance, criminal or otherwise, and the fortuitous appearance of an unknown individual in a long coat, wide brimmed hat, and scarf.  This figure arrives on the scene of trouble in progress and handily puts down wrong-doers as though that person were the hand of justice itself.
 
And the final story, while attributed to a medicine induced fever, is an account of a miner who claimed to see monsters at a local mine.  It all makes for entertaining reading to be sure, and I’d be curious to know if there is any truth to any of it.  But I would hardly call these stories sensible.

But I suspect, as a schoolteacher, Ms. Frost is trying to create a positive example for her students in the form of an heroic figure of sound character to which they can aspire. In that practice, I can imagine her serving her students and community well, even if the sensationalist tone in her writing damages some credibility. I am sure it helps maintain an audience for the local gazette as the tales are, in each case, entertaining.
 
When I’ve more time, I should like to speak to her about it.  But in the mean-time, the spark of adventure has struck me and I am inclined to go bail out Justice and take a short trip to this mine. Perhaps I too am finding my curiosity peaked by these colorful stories.  My card-playing companion will have to find ways of settling his debt with the barkeeper at the Wooly Buffalo of course, but that is his affair and not mine.  Though, if he does land himself in jail again as a result of truancy, I shall leave him there.  It does me no good here in Deadwood to associate myself with troublemakers when I am trying to sway the council in favor of committing sums of money to my telegraph project.

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Finishing Up the family business: Spell craft and Soulless Corpse Monster Attack
Eliza's Journal Excerpt

Ruby meets up with me and we head out together. Along the way there is a rather macabre spectacle of hanging corpses along the path. Ruby mentions these are warnings from the Indians. These men broke the treaty and no-one claimed their bodies. The mines themselves aren’t large, only 4 or 5 men total allowed and some of the areas are just stripped bare.

We finally make it a rocky area with gouged out bits. She leads me to a secluded spot and seems quite taken aback by recent activity in the area. There is a filthy horse blanket that is a few weeks abandoned and empty cowboy boots. It is curious, but not too odd in the American West. She goes over a practical show of her powers. Her list is most impressive. By the time we are finished it is dusk. My first success is learning Hangman’s Noose. I am certainly hoping to never cross paths with mother again, but I would so relish the chance to see how she likes experiencing it.

On the way home it starts to rain darkening the way even more. I activate soul sight and a little bit later hear a growling clicking noise. One of the hung men… he… well… stretches and distorts freeing himself from the binding. It almost paralyzes me in terror, but I manage to reclaim my faculties. I simply refuse to die here like this and I think there might only be one of the creatures. Ruby’s horse is terrified and bucks her off. I draw too late to shot before it gets arms around her. I chant out the curse for Life Ebb hoping it works with these things as well. An ichor exudes from its rotting flesh. I am not sure at first if this is helpful but Ruby seems to be aided in her struggle with the creature. I hear the horrific noise of their unnatural stretching again and realize there are two in total. The new comer completes its drop and as I locate it I see it has Obsidian in it’s clutches. The horse proves it is more than style and speed, keeping it together and fighting the creature. I reach into myself and call out to the creatures with the blackness of my soul as I was taught early in life. I feel it works, the creatures no longer seeming to have interest in me, and focus on protecting Ruby. She has startled mumbling, but as distracted as I was I cannot be sure exactly the curse. I aim and before I pull the trigger and in the moment before I stroke the pistols trigger I realize she is doing the curse version of what I just darkened my soul for.

I let lose the deadly little projectile at the retreating one, it drops with the fourth shot. I dismount to find a trophy, focused on both proof of these creatures and something to research what they are. As I approach the spot where the creature fell, Ruby yells to help her get her horse. I snap from my task realizing I would be anxious to leave in her place too. I run back to Obsidian and head down the trail to her horse. We both try to calm it and Obsidian helps, laying his head in a caring manner on the other animal. I do love this creature quite a bit and even more now.

We make it back to town and into the Green Door. I notice she is bleeding and make a concerned remark. She reminds me this is an issue for her and I offer to dress it for her. After an easy bandage I look at her and say I could really use one of those baths if possible. She responds that it was exactly what she was thinking. The attendant nods and goes to set it up.

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Finishing Up the family business
Eliza's Journal Excerpt

We make it to the Green Front. The air is pleasantly thick with perfume. I take a seat as an attendant changes our shoes to one of a selection in a box under the bench. Ruby mentions this attendant is deaf and mute but seems to know to be in the right place at the right time.

I meet the madame, Dora DuFran. She has a rather perturbed looking live parrot in her head dressings. She also appears to be quite young, perhaps 20. I find myself impressed by this. She attempts to engage my employment and I politely decline. Ruby makes an excuse for us to leave insinuating I am a client. I just keep a smile on my face and play along.

We make it up to a room with two bathtubs full of bubbles and champagne in a bucket between them. I am confused, having been expecting a bedroom. I move right along to flustered as I turn from scanning the room to see Ruby fully nude and moving to enter a tub. She sighs contentedly once settled and looks to me. I have recovered from my shock, it has been a while since I have been with family, but I am still probably looking a little awkward. She asks when I last had a proper bubble bath and I think a second saying four days. She is surprised as I have mentioned coming from Shady Gulch. I say the town may not be known for luxury but it can be had in town. She seems a bit disappointed and I think she takes It as a slight. I am probably coming across a little prudish, but I am still not sure about my safety and while I did mention my birthmark to her, it has been quite a while since anyone has seen it.

She hails from Ghost Creek which she reveals to be in California. When I ask her about family nearby she mentions that there is a group of women believed to be witches by Ruby. They hail from Black River. Ruby knows of them because she met with a cousin working with them. She was put to work as a whore, but they also taught her how to handle a firearm as well as some other fighting skills. She mentions that she was responsible for the men flying out the windows. There were some miners that came into some money and they took some liberties.

There is a women in town by the name of Calamity Jane that used to take care of security around the Green Front. A romantic interest of hers, Wild Bill Hickock, was killed and she has sought solace in the drink. This has led to her squandering the good reputation she had earned. All this is important information, but we finally get past the foreplay (I simply could not resist) and get to the good stuff. We share our curses and make plans to teach each other, agreeing to meet the next day at Iron Hill mine. As we wrap up I mention that I am attempting to get a telegraph line between Deadwood and Shady Gulch.

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Business get's put on hold for family matters
Eliza's Journal Excerpt

Our group is gathered discussing our immediate plans for the day. Mr. Cereny seems intent to head to China Town. I do not have personally have an issue with these areas, but those we are conducting business with may. We agree to meet for dinner at Swearengen’s saloon around 7. I inform them I shall be at the hotel meanwhile. Justice offers me escort back and I happily accept. Once back in my room I write a note to Mr. Bear Claw thanking him for his time and expertise in the matter of the telegraph lines.

After a few drafts I am finally satisfied and there is still lots of time left before dinner. I head down to the desk and inquire to the location of the telegraph office. I head out in the direction and notice a woman in a bowler hat and bright red hair. She waves to me and begins speaking. I am unable to hear her, and motion thus. I go across the street expecting this may be the Calamity Jane person one of our party is interested in meeting, I do stand out in this town and likely easy to spot for one with even a base description of my person. I notice too late her eyes are the same shade green as my own. She introduces herself as Ruby Jade. Jedadiah Dupont is her given name though. I am gob smacked and quite flustered. She requests we meet at the Green Front. I say I have dinner plans at 7 and she says that is fine the establishment is open late. She then takes the most relaxed pose against the wall unconcerned by my proximity. It is as terrifying a situation as vexing.

I abandon my trip to the telegraph office temporarily and make haste back to the hotel. I need more information on this. Entering I quickly notice Aunt Lou Marchbanks in my brief time here I have already clocked her as someone in the know. She notices I am a bit pale and offers some tea. I accept and I am quite surprised to be tasting a more than competent cuppa. I inquire about the woman Ruby Jade and how to meet her without going to the Green Front. Langrishe Theater or Nye’s Opera House are the places she mentions for a meeting.

As I finish my tea Ms. Frost enters. I know it is a long shot for a teacher to have knowledge regarding a women of this reputation, but inquire any way to give her the background for my next inquiry. She does have a way to get a note to Ruby without me risking reputation. I head up to my room and refill my pen. I scribble out a note hurried, just wanting to put this out of my mind for an hour or two if I can. I fold the correspondence and move to get up, then think better of it and re-write the note after a few deep breaths to steady my hand. I only sign it with an “E”. I hand the note to Ms. Frost as I ask what the service costs. She seems to not know quite how to answer so I hand her $5 and thank her kindly for the discretion.

It is nearing dinner time at this point so I ask Ms. Frost to head to the Gem with me. No sooner do we step on the walkway then a young girl comes up and tugs on Ms. Frost’s skirts. Frost excuses herself from me and talks to the child. The little girl is scared. Apparently she wished her father had died instead of her mother and subsequently a creature appeared under her bed that left marks on her. It looks like a hand print but burned into flesh. I am a bit surprised that Ms. Frost merely rolls with this story seemingly accepting it as truth. These things are still rebuffed by the population at large despite the mounting evidence. I am less surprised she genuinely seems to want to ease the little girl’s mind and offer assistance. She does seem quite empathetic and a good fit for a school teacher. I snap out of my thoughts at her addressing me and I assure Frost this is exactly the sort of thing Cyrus would be interested in looking into. We secure a temporary place for the urchin at our hotel with Aunt Lou and head to the Gem. There is a bit of a kerfuffle attempting to get a table and I am about to attempt to diffuse when Mr. Cerny of all people steps up and cowers the rough man giving us issue and we take a seat. Perhaps I have underestimated the man.

We sit and it is not long before my desire to leave grows quite a bit stronger. While I am no stranger to the more rough and tumble establishments, my reputation in these parts is not one I care to have marked with being comfortable here. At least for now. The man seated next to me is quite grubby and leans into my space a lot. He claims to be a dentist and asks if I am in need of this service I decline, though his teeth do appear to be in quite good shape. He asks if my friends do, I tell him I will enlighten my friends this town has a dentist.

Turning back to the group, I attempt to join the discussion about the day’s events. I am quite distracted by both my meeting later and the man next to me. Cerny picks up on the latter distraction and engages the man. He is able to wave the man away. He returns and Cerny again rebuffs him a bit more rudely this time and he takes his leave. Not long after Ms Frost notices a Ms Johnson enters. She is not exactly a whore according to Ms Frost, but operates quite similarly. She approaches the group, Clockwork in particular the dandy air about him is cat nip to those in her line of work. He rebuffs her quite rudely saying that he is sure she would “show him a good time”. Whilst her slap still bounces off the walls I must say I let loose an honest guffaw at this little bit of entertainment.

I begin checking my timepiece, quite anxious for my meeting and as I take my leave the group also finds reason to leave and we all travel to the hotel together. I am saddened a little for my soul that I had forgotten all about the little girl, but Ms Frost seems capable and is taking charge. I take my leave and write a quick note detailing where I am going and whom to start looking at if I disappear and head off to the meeting.

I enter the Opera house and am asked for a ticket and I pay. I take a seat and the production is a bit impressive given our location. I notice Ruby and steel myself before approaching. I make my presence known and she offers me a seat I take it graciously. I sit and before long she is twisting a curse. I sit patiently knowing she could have ambushed me at any point so harming me here is unlikely, though it is dangerous to apply logic to matters of my family. I maintain eye contact and smile waiting for her to finish. She mentions the singer has made her dislike of Ruby known and will have her evicted if she shows again. She inquires what I would do if repercussions where not an issue. I mention I assume this also excludes the lord, her reaction to this tells me little either way, then after a quick thought say I would ensure her costume malfunctions to embarrass her on stage. She thinks this is delightful in its subtle deviance. I do take pride in that.

She begins to twist another curse and the singer appears to be choking. I smile large and wicked at this as it is one I remember wanting to learn before my crisis of faith in regards to the family business. Mother was quite fond of this curse when she we failed to heed her, or she was cross, or we weren’t understanding a lesson, or…. Well Mother was just quite fond of this curse. The reasoning so very obvious and I have longed for its knowledge finding far too frequent a use for just such a thing myself. Ruby insists we head back to her room where we can discuss more vigorously assuaging my fears by suggesting women of our ilk having a few options at doing so and maintaining my reputation. I agree and we head off. The unbound joy I feel slipping on the comfortable cloak of shadow in the night with family once again will likely cause my mind trouble in the morning, but for tonight I just feel alive. We race each other to the Green Front no need for setting out rules or even agreeing to do so, Ruby winning by a close, but undeniable margin.

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A Shadow Walks Behind

An excerpt from the journal of Gene Cerney

I am siting in the office of the Office of Indian or Mining Affairs. The staff itself cannot seem to decide on a name. I worried that I would make a fool of myself trying to lead this expedition and it seems, I am living up to my own expectations. Chaos followed us here. After gathering all the members of our travelling group, there was a commotion at one end of town.

People were in a panic, running for their lives down Main Street. I have learned to respond to that kind of fear with haste. Lives depend on it. I picked my way down one of the boardwalks, dodging feeling citizens to get a sight line to danger. I spotted through the throng an Indian riding down the center of the street putting arrows into victims at random. He was a large fellow, paler than other natives I’ve seen.

Cyrus spoke some words of faith and took off in a furious charge, drawing and swinging his saber with fanatical fervor. I drew my own weapon and sought cover closer to the native. I drew a bead and fired a shot. Joseph and Johnny also lent their aid in the struggle and, with our determined intervention, the murderer fell.

A group of dog soldiers led by a native with half his face painted red and two feathers in his hair arrived. They gave surprising aid to the removal of the unsightly dead bodies and expressed their sympathies for the citizens of Deadwood in the attack. Cyrus was able to help us discern what the natives were saying. They explained the native had attacked their own people as well and they had been unable to quell his assault before he rode into Deadwood. We promised to convey his message to the town’s leadership.

I hurried to meet with Joseph Bearclaw and leveraged the inattention of his office assistant to ensure I would be able to speak with the native representative in Deadwood and make my case for a telegraph across the prairie. My research on that topic led me to believe that the Natives would not allow permanent fixed structures on their land. I presumed that any discussion around such a disapproved subject would by necessity be clandestine. So I phrased my rationale in misleading fashion as a need to plant trees.

I made a critical miscalculation of Bearclaw. He is a straightforward man. My inquiries cost me my involvement in the meeting. Bearclaw ejected me to sit on this damnable bench in a dejected state. I am left to depend on Miss Blackstone’s powers of persuasion. I am left to question my own capabilities. I marketed myself as a partner who could handle the business set up and earn the confidence of my investors. But as I sit here, it is the paramore of my investor rescuing me from my own faults. I am sure it will cost me.

And it reminds me that I still do not know what Ms. Blackstone is doing on this venture. Is she proof of Jake Kilburn lacking faith in my ability? Is he just protecting his investment? Or is she here to further some more personal goal. I really must find out more about her, lest I find myself perpetually under her thumb or in her debt.

I require a distraction from all these disappointing thoughts. I think I will go investigate Chinatown to see if I can find a gift for Ming.

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Pox Walker & Meeting with Mr Bear Claw
Eliza's Journal Excerpt

The group fractures as certain members attend to business they have. I offer to stay with Mr. Cerney, but he politely declines, parting ways agreeing to meet again in half an hour. I go to the bank and relieve myself of the majority of my purse. I take a breath leaving the bank, knowing my funds are secure. This town is a bit more rough and tumble then I had expected. I have managed to become engrossed in my pocket bible and am just slightly startled when Mr. Cerney clears his throat to gain my attention. Joseph is with him. He suggests we gather the rest of the group ahead of the meeting. We set about our way and hear a number of gunshots. The two gentlemen take off at their top speed. I make haste, but at a more gentile pace. Picking through the crowd to avoid being knocked down whilst also keeping an eye to the origin of the kerfuffle.

It seems the issue is an Indian fellow attacking citizens. After a bit it smacks me that he is quite emaciated and covered in boils. So very… deceased looking. I wrack my brain for a reason for this. The ichor smells of ammonia and puss. Glancing around a bit I notice one of the victims with an arrow in him has some unusual afflictions for such a wound. His eyes are puffy and he just seems bloated in general. I go examine the shaft of the arrow and do not notice a thing. I grab the hem of my skirts incase the ichor dries clear and pull the arrow from the corpse. Sure enough I notice a bit of the goo on the arrow head. Someone mentions there are 6 riders on the way and are indians. I take a quick peek around for a spot of concealment and find the tents are the my best bet. I take my leave, failing to notify my compatriots as time is quite the factor.

The group arrives and speaks among themselves. I hear a voice I am pretty sure is Cyrus’ answer in their language. I don’t speak the language and fear even if I could I wouldn’t hear the whole exchange. I eventually tire of hiding, they don’t seem to be searching for a thing apart from the boil inflicted indians. They have gathered the bodies and Mr. Cerney is relieving the contents of a lamp onto the bodies and kindling. An Indian strikes a flint a few times and the pyre goes up. It grows as expected for a moment then flares. I start to become a bit worried but just as I think to flee it seems to extinguish of its own accord. This appears to be clearing so I head to the Office of Indian Affairs. I am a wee bit late and make apologies, letting them know Mr. Cerney will be arriving momentarily. The lackey directs me to some seating and I take a seat, reading my pocket bible again.

Our meeting begins and Mr Cerney takes the lead. It is going poorly. I do not know what Mr Cerney is all about. He is discussing growing trees, buying praire land… I am befuddled. Mr Bear Claw looks to me, I fear I failed his test as I am quite flummoxed. Mr Bear Claw stands and tells us we have “Wasted his time”. My mouth gapes open and closed like a guppy. I am so very confused. Mr Cerney says he would like to compensate him for his time. He lays $200 on the table. Mr Bear Claw says he has 5 minutes. Mr Cerney continues to talk mostly in riddles. Mr Bear Claw is quite perturbed at this point. He turns to me and says he will continue to talk with me, if only Mr Cerney leaves as he has grown tired of being insulted. Still a bit confused by the situation I tell him I have no issue with this. Mr Cerney lays another $100 on the table on his way out.
I forget the exact details of the exchange now as I was heady with the rush of negotiations. However Mr Bear Claw tells me he was educated back east. I play on this. Appealing to his ego, a weakness prevalent in men of all shades. This helps convey my message that it benefits Deadwood with commerce and consolidating power for itself. Mr Bear Claw offers to talk to the council about permissions and fees that would be associated with the endeavor. I thank him kindly and tell him I am at his disposal if I can be of assistance. Mr Cerney is waiting outside and I inform him about what happened after his exit. We leave the building and the rest of the group is waiting as well as Ms Frost. Cyrus is making inquiries about a “Calamity Jane”. It seems she is the town drunk. This seems quite the accomplishment in a town such as this.

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